Interview With… Grace Duggan

Emma Clarendon chats to the director about lockdown and the postponed production of ‘Wood’.

Hi thanks so much for talking to me – could you tell me a little more about ‘Wood’? Hey! WOOD is a meta-theatrical comedy investigating questions of power and privilege in the rehearsal room and beyond. The question we explore is who holds the power? And how do unseen patriarchal structures ensure that nothing ever changes? WOOD kicks off in the 1980s porn industry, and as the story unravels, the show takes an
unexpected twist. Often when describing WOOD to people, I will just say it’s really HOT! WOOD is a play that moves with the times and there’s just a bubbling heat that emanates from its comedy and its larger ideas about gender and racial injustice. We’ve been developing the play for nearly 3 years and its first outing was at Vaults in 2019. It was due to transfer to Omnibus Theatre for a three week run this summer but this has been
postponed in light of the global pandemic.

What did you first think of the story when you read it? Well – WOOD – has been on a journey. When I first read WOOD, it was as part of the ‘Catalyst’ artist development program at the North Wall and it was an ‘American play’ about the 1980s porn industry (think a boogie night sequel). I sat down with writer, Adam Foster, and we had a really honest conversation because
something didn’t feel right. He said, “we don’t have much time, but sure let’s tear it apart!” Cut to being in the rehearsal room where the metatheatrical world took over and helped us to find the parameters of the piece. We are extremely grateful to the actors that have been
a part of WOOD over its time, who gave us material and ideas to run with. WOW, actors and collaborators are brilliant beasts!

I’m really sorry that the show has been postponed – do you still hope to bring it to the Omnibus at some point? WOOD will absolutely go on in the future, and we’d like that to be at Omnibus… it’s just a
matter of when.

You have also launched a Kickstarter campaign – what are you hoping to achieve? Making a show is really expensive and we need to start building the foundations of budget to work with!! This is an extremely tough time for the arts and we are aware that many in the industry are struggling, so with this Kickstarter we’d like to reach others that might be
lucky enough to have some disposable cash and support the cause of freelancers to ensure we can carry on working. After three years of hard work, and the support and love of so many people going into this
production, we’d really hate to see this show be hindered because of a lack of finances…

Further to this though, we want to make sure everyone involved is paid ‘FULLY’ for the work they do, this industry needs to shift away from its ‘working for free’ structures – its floored and elitist. Support through our Kickstarter will contribute towards artists fees. Read more about our campaign and donate here:

How have you found the whole lockdown experience? It’s been a big experience to say the least! Sometimes I’ve been super productive, and sometimes I haven’t. Sometimes I’ve felt guilty for that, sometimes I haven’t.
It’s a scary time for our livelihood and it’s made me question why the hell I want to be a director/theatre maker at all… but I have hope. There are some brilliant people out there making brilliant waves of work – and to be honest, I’m excited to see what’s to come. But in saying I have hope, I’m aware that money is needed for so many…. so, we must keep
pushing forwards and supporting others as we go!

How would you describe ‘Wood’? Porn, power and patriarchy!

By Emma Clarendon

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